PROVO — It’s become so routine folks practically expect Tyler Haws to score a lot of points.
Ho-hum, he got 25. Or 28. Or 37.
Has it come to that with this kid? That he’s so routine in his ability to put up points that he can drop 37 in an NIT win over Washington this past week and, though it is noticed, doesn’t draw bugles or drums?
Well, it seems so.
Haws got a long rest after that WCC tournament loss to San Diego in Las Vegas. It was 11 days. That respite apparently recharged his batteries for this past week’s spectacular shooting display.
Haws made 15 of 24 field goals. He scored 17 in the first half. In that game against the Huskies, he displayed his quick draw, his stop and fire move, and his floater shot. He made threes. He came off screens and raced down court to finish on the break. He found extra energy and was active his full 38 minutes. It’s tough to guard a blur.
He’s had a season where he’s been targeted. He ranks No. 10 in the NCAA in scoring with 21.4 points a game. And that average counts the night he scored just one point at Gonzaga back on Jan. 24. The WCC scoring champion saw all kinds of defensive deployments against him this season and that’s what makes it even more amazing.
Haws is a man of slender build. He isn’t a 6-foot-10 center who gets his points around the hoop. He has to be sleight of hand and foot. He needs to create space and keep moving to get open. He’s drawn double teams and had to fight to get around screens. He’s rarely left open in defensive game plans because they call for full attention at all times. When he gets hot, opposing coaches call timeouts to make adjustments and yell at somebody.
He’s been knocked down, held, grabbed and hacked. In one game this season, the guy guarding him kept giving him uppercuts to the ribs whenever he could sneak them in.
That is the kind of work night Haws endures.
And still he scores.
Nobody on Washington’s team has scored more than 30 points all season. The most points any Washington opponent had scored on the Huskies this year was 32 by Arizona State's Jahil Carson.
That 37 by Haws last Tuesday night was the 31st time this season he’s scored in double digits. It was his 22nd game of 20 or more points in a game and that ties him with two of the best scorers in BYU history, Jimmer Fredette and Michael Smith. Fredette got 22 games of 20 or more points as a junior.
Smith was a tremendously talented shooter and the entire focus of Ladell Anderson’s offense back in the day. Fredette played point guard and had the ball in his hands from the beginning and usually at the end of possessions. Thus, he was mostly able to control when he got his field goal attempts.
Haws relies on his teammates to get him the ball and set some screens. He’s a receiver, a catch-and-shoot artist.
In the NCAA Tournament first round, the top performances came from Dwayne Evans, St. Louis (24); Brayden Carlson, South Dakota (20); Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (21); Russ Smith, Louisville (23); Mark Lyons, Arizona (23); Dorian Green, Colorado State (26); and Brandon Triche, Syracuse (20).
Mississippi’s flamboyant Marshall Henderson, the former University of Utah guard, started 1 for 17 in an upset of Wisconsin but finished with 19 points. “There is no question Marshall Mania affects the psyche of the other team,” said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy.
And so it does with BYU’s Haws in a different way. Quieter than Henderson, Haws is a blue-collar player who seemingly does his work calmly, almost serenely. He’s like the miner that gears up, carrying his pick on his shoulder, descends into the hole and returns with a bucket of nuggets.
He does it so well, it’s easy to overlook or to take for granted.
This time last year, Haws was knocking on doors as a missionary in the Philippines.
Now he’s the country’s No. 10 scorer.
That speaks in volume about the kid that no bugle or drum can really match.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at [email protected].